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Rumba Congo
     

Rumba Congo

by Kekele
 
Like a central African version of the Buena Vista Social Club, Kékélé brings together veterans of Congo's popular soukous music to pay tribute to an older, gentler art form: Congolese rumba. Where contemporary soukous is percussive and frank, rumba is rippling and coquettish, giving equal play to acoustic guitars, sighing accordion, and the

Overview

Like a central African version of the Buena Vista Social Club, Kékélé brings together veterans of Congo's popular soukous music to pay tribute to an older, gentler art form: Congolese rumba. Where contemporary soukous is percussive and frank, rumba is rippling and coquettish, giving equal play to acoustic guitars, sighing accordion, and the crystalline voices of some of the country's finest singers. It's a style that has largely fallen from favor since the '70s, but these balmy acoustic sounds should feel just right to Afro-pop fans under a decades-long assault by drum machines and synthesizers. Kékélé hearken back to the '50s groups that birthed contemporary soukous, as much through sound as through personnel. Their careers have crisscrossed through Congo's most famous bands: singers Nyboma Mwan Dido, Loko Massengo, Bumba Massa, Wuta Mayi, and Jean Papy Ramazani were active in the '60s with O.K. Jazz, Lipwa Lipwa, Negro Succès, Orchestra Vévé, and others; guitarist Syran Mbenza played alongside Mose "Fan Fan" SeSengo and in Les Quatre Etoiles; and guitar legend Antoine "Papa Noël" Nedule is recognized along with Franco as a Congolese guitar demigod. Parisian session star Yves Ndjock is the young ace in charge of this storied bunch, and he does a fine job arranging and directing. As each elegantly structured song washes over, it's easy to pick out the signature antigravity guitar lines that would become the hallmark of soukous. But with Kékélé's masterful recording, it's even more rewarding to pick out the floating strains of Latin, European, and tribal rhythms, delivered in one elegant, addictive package. Rumba Congo comes as close as many will get to the high of drinking palm wine under a canopy of central African stars.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Romano
Kekele's Rumba Congo is an album that brings together seven decorated veterans of Congolese rumba's golden age. All of these musicians have been playing since the 1960s and one, Papa Noel, has been into the Congolese scene since 1957. It is an enduring strand (Kekele is the Lingala word for a fibrous vine woven to make rope in the Congo) that harks back to the graceful elegance of the classic rumba of the Congo, whose main appeal is its sensuous charm. The Cuban influence, along with myriad other influences, has been inflected and melded into Congolese rumba. The rumba magicians have reworked rhythms and melodies via their native tongue, Lingala. This classic Congolese rumba is a welcome antidote to the surfeit of soukous stars who have succumbed to instant success by producing albums that reek of repetition, exaggeration, and uninventive guitar exercises. Here is the full glory of Congolese rumba, played with style and an elegant sensuality that is without equal in the world of African music. Why anyone would want to abandon such an appealing and diversely rich music such as this is hard to comprehend. It is a credit to these and other Congolese musicians who have kept this music alive and revived it amidst the welter of soukous clones. There is no filler here, only unguent guitar work, honey-laced vocals, piping-hot percussion, and tight fat horns. It would be difficult to top this recording for Congolese rumba album of the year or, for that matter, African album of the year. Highly recommended.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/24/2001
Label:
Stern's Africa
UPC:
0740042109322
catalogNumber:
1093

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Mbote Ya Pamba
  2. Dido
  3. Mandze Mandze
  4. Baninga
  5. Eelembetele Lala
  6. Massamour
  7. Pinzoli Ya Africa
  8. Kubola
  9. Patenge
  10. Gina
  11. Kaka Ngai
  12. Success Ya Grand Kalle
  13. Otage Ya Bolingo
  14. Likambo

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